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Keywords:

  • dieting;
  • eating disorder;
  • adolescence;
  • risk;
  • depression

Abstract

Objective

The aim of the present study was to predict the risk of developing an eating disorder in subgroups of dieters, based on the adolescents own accounts of the reason for starting to diet.

Method

Eighty-one dieters from a cohort of 595 adolescents (318 boys and 288 girls) aged 15 participated in the present prospective study. Personal interviews at both base-line and follow-up were combined with questionnaire data on depression, social phobia and self-esteem.

Results

Four mutually exclusive groups of dieters were identified: vanity dieters, overweight dieters, depressed dieters and feeling fat dieters. Depressed and feeling-fat dieters had a 15-fold risk of having a lifetime eating disorder at age 18 compared to vanity and overweight dieters.

Conclusion

Typical teenage vanity dieting and dieting among overweight adolescents appears to be a benign practice, but adolescents dieting because of psychological distress have high-risk of developing an eating disorder. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.